With budget cuts coming I would like to say that there are some very good reasons for cutting Defense Spending.
First off as politicians of both houses have demonstrated when there is a large military it will get used. Having fewer military options may make administrations think twice before swinging the military broadsword.
Secondly, this country can no longer afford a large standing military force.
Lastly I'm not saying that Defense should be the only area with budget cuts, far from it, but Republicans are going to HAVE to compromise and cut defense if they want to get meaningful cuts in wealth redistribution. Compromise may be a bitch, but if we get a balanced budget and reduced debt it is worth it.
So what what would a smaller military look like, and what would its capabilities be?
Well the Army could shrink to 300,000 active duty and the National Guard and Reserves could expand by 180,000 which would essentially reduce personnel spending by 3/8ths. This would leave enough combat power on Active Duty to conquer a small country and have enough "expansion power" from the reserve forces to conduct stability ops, nation building, etc. Gen Franks may have screwed up the "post combat operations" portion of Iraq, but he demonstrated that when Americans use their technical advantage it makes up for a lot of bodies in terms of combat power. This would also make the Active Duty Army look a lot like the current Marine Corps in terms of bodies.
Cancel the next generation of Infantry Carrying Vehicle. The technology just isn't there to give us something significantly better than either a Bradly or Stryker. The Marines have already canceled their latest amphibious assault vehicle (which kinda sucks for them because the current generation of amphibious tracked vehicles are getting VERY long in the tooth).
Cancel the Joint Strike Fighter, buy more F22s as F15 fleets wear out to an end strength of about 400 F22s. The flyaway cost for an F22 is already lower than the projected cost of an F35 and there is no tactical advantage of the F35 over the F22. It was a pie in the sky idea in the first place to try to get the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps to agree on a common airframe. There are very good reasons why the different forces fly different aircraft. The potential cost savings of the F35 program have already been thrown down the contractor black hole.
The Navy needs to not get new ships and focus heavy on maintenance of what they have. The "War on Terror" probably hurt the Navy more than any other service. The Navy needs more bodies to properly man the ships that they already have in the inventory.
And what should Republicans demand in return? Get rid of the TSA, they are ineffective and a complete waste of resources. Take away the BATFEs police powers and transfer them to the FBI, a regulatory agency that also has police power is like the fox guarding the henhouse. Get rid of the Department of Energy, it was created under Carter to ween us off oil and it is a complete failure.
I know this is ambitious, but this is serious business. If the budget doesn't change then events will change it for us.